Goodbye "SNL," hello "Daily Show"
This news item about "The Daily Show's" Rob Riggle getting his own CBS sitcom plays into a theme I've been thinking about recently: "The Daily Show's" utter domination of "Saturday Night Live" as a starmaking machine.
This is sort of a weird time to bridge the topic, given all the attention "SNL" has garnered recently for Tina Fey's Sarah Palin imitation (which perhaps culminated last weekend with the Palin cameo).
But really, look around: "The Office" has two "Daily Show" alums - not to mention Steve Carell's burgeoning movie career - Jason Jones was guest-starring on "How I Met Your Mother" last night, Rob Corddry has done movies, Mo Rocca is annoyingly ubiquitous on cable... I'm probably missing a few others. And that's leaving out Stephen Colbert, who never left the network.
And, over roughly the same period, "Saturday Night Live" has produced who exactly? Tina Fey. That's it, really. If you go back before 2000, when Jon Stewart took over at "The Daily Show," you'd get Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, Jimmy Fallon and Darrell Hammond, but since "TDS" hit its modern era, it's clearly eclipsed "SNL" as a launch pad.
There's an obvious irony here, given that Riggle was actually on "Saturday Night Live" for a season. But it was clearly "The Daily Show" that made him famous.
Now, I might also argue that "The Daily Show" manages to be funnier two hours a week (half an hour, Monday through Thursday), all year long than "SNL" does with its 90 minutes 16 or 20 episodes a year (I'm not really sure how many episodes "SNL" averages these days, but it ain't year-round. Obviously, playing off the news helps keep the half-hour moving along, but that's a big part of "SNL," too, and pretty often "SNL" can't do it.
I know, I know, people have been complaining about how much "SNL" sucks and how good the show used to be since about five minutes after it premiered in 1975, but I think if you simply look at it empirically "TDS" is a more successful comedy show.
Now, having said all that, Todd Palin in a snowmobile suit was comedy gold. And anyone wondering whether "The Daily Show" can be anywhere nearly as funny in an Obama administration... my guess would be, "No."